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Rewritten Business & Financial Plan awaits adoption by SBC messengers

Robyn Hari is chair of the Committee on Convention Finance and Stewardship Development with the SBC Executive Committee. Union University photo

NASHVILLE (BP) – Southern Baptist Convention messengers at the upcoming annual meeting will be presented an updated Business & Financial Plan approved by SBC Executive Committee members on May 11.

At the 2019 SBC Annual Meeting in Birmingham, former SBC EC president and CEO Morris Chapman, acting as a messenger from Triune Baptist Church in Arrington, Tenn., presented a motion for the Executive Committee “to strengthen the fiscal accountability of entities” and “promote greater transparency regarding the use of Cooperative Program dollars.” The motion was referred to the Executive Committee for consideration and report to the 2020 SBC Annual Meeting in Orlando. When that meeting was canceled due the COVID-19 pandemic, the motion was pushed to the 2021 annual meeting in Nashville.

The current Business and Financial Plan can be found on page 25 of the 2020 SBC Annual.

Echoing Chapman’s motion, the reworked Business & Financial Plan focuses on a desire to create more clarity, more transparency and more accountability among SBC entities and the Executive Committee. Most notably, the document now includes:

  • a preamble
  • updated language
  • a focus on the role of entity boards
  • entity confirmation to be submitted annually

The final product came about through a collaborative effort that included an ad hoc committee, EC staff, EC attorneys and entity CEOs, CFOs and general counsels. It will be included in the Book of Reports distributed to messengers at the annual meeting.

“This plan emphasizes the governing and financial responsibility of the boards of each entity,” said EC CFO Jeff Pearson, who assumed responsibility for overseeing the process in January 2021, after the retirement of his predecessor, Bill Townes. “The addition of the annual entity confirmation should encourage the SBC messengers that those in positions of responsibility are fulfilling the expectations of the Convention.”

The plan goes into further detail in four key areas of relationship among the Executive Committee, the Convention and its entities:

  • cooperation
  • governance
  • stewardship development
  • financial integrity and accountability

SBC Executive Committee President and CEO Ronnie Floyd said the new agreement will generate clearer communication among entities and the EC.

“We believe this recommended Business & Financial Plan provides a greater clarity of understanding and encourages cooperation, transparency and accountability from each of the entities to the Southern Baptist Convention,” he said. “The Annual Entity Confirmation alone represents the desired outcomes we have of each entity when they confirm in writing and for publication their adherence to this plan. This confirmation is signed by the organization’s board chair, chief executive officer and chief financial officer, which yearly asserts they are operating in accordance to the Business & Financial Plan of the SBC.”

EC member Robyn Hari, who serves as chair of the Committee on Convention Finance and Stewardship Development, called the agreement one that “conveys the delicate balance of autonomy and accountability and will serve Southern Baptists well in the years ahead.”

“As believers and as Southern Baptists, our sole mission is to reach the world for Jesus Christ,” said Hari, director and managing partner of the Nashville office for Diversified Trust, which oversees more than $7 billion in client assets. “As stated in the Preface of the Business & Financial Plan, this mission demands that we be steadfast stewards of the abundant blessings of God’s provision.

“This document expresses the Southern Baptist Convention’s expectations regarding cooperation between and among the entities, the Convention and its Executive Committee, so that cooperating churches of the Convention and their members might have confidence that their faithful and generous investment in the ministries of these organizations are conducted in a manner that faithfully honors our Lord and Savior.”

International Mission Board President Paul Chitwood said the updates to the Business & Financial Plan “bring the content and language of this guiding document up to date, especially with regards to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles standards and industry best practices,” adding: “In doing so, the document will represent an even higher level of accountability that can be celebrated by every church giving through the Cooperative Program to get the Gospel to our nation and every nation.”